Fiber is an incredibly important part of a nutritious and healthy diet. It helps protect against heart disease, strokes, diverticulitis, and other digestive disorders. It may even aid in weight management and help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
There are two primary types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, whereas insoluble fiber aids in digestion and prevents constipation.
The dietary guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that men should consume 30 grams to 38 grams of fiber per day whereas women should consume 21 grams to 25 grams per day.
Unfortunately, most of us do not even come close to meeting the recommended dietary intake. It is not really difficult to ensure that your diet has enough fiber content as there are plenty of fiber-rich foods you can choose from.
However, if you are having a hard time adding fiber to your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
Also, when increasing your fiber intake, make sure to drink plenty of water as proper hydration can assist your body in processing fiber the right way.
10 Foods with High Fiber Content
Here are 10 healthy foods that are very rich in fibers.
1. Split Peas
Split peas, whether green or yellow, are highly beneficial for your health due to their high fiber content. They also contain protein and several other vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, molybdenum, and manganese. Plus, they are low in fat.
The fiber in split peas is helpful in dealing with digestive disorders. Also, it is useful in reducing blood cholesterol levels, reducing cancer risk, regulating blood sugar levels, improving heart health, promoting weight control, and more.
Just 1 cup of split peas (boiled) provides 16.3 grams of soluble fiber. You can use split peas to prepare a protein-rich base for soups, stews, and curries.
Moreover, lentils contain folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Plus, they provide antioxidants, such as vitamin A and C.
Include lentils in your diet to promote a healthy gut by encouraging regular bowel movements, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of colon cancer. They can also help control your blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and appetite and lower your risk of getting diabetes.
Just 1 cup of lentils (boiled) provides 15.6 grams of fiber. Lentils are more versatile than other legumes and do not take much time to cook. You can boil lentils and add them to soups, stews, and curry-based dishes.
3. Lima Beans
Like lentils, lima beans are also rich in both insoluble and soluble fibers. They are also an excellent source of valuable antioxidants, along with vitamin B6, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin.
Lima beans provide several minerals, including manganese, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Plus, they are a good source of carbohydrates but without the negative effects of simple sugars.
Being rich in insoluble fiber, lima beans help promote digestive tract health and prevent constipation, provided they are cooked properly. Eating lima beans also helps control cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and balance your blood sugar levels. In addition, it provides immense, steady, and slow-burning energy.
Just 1 cup of cooked lima beans provides 14 grams of fiber. Boiled beans can be added to soups, stews, salads, and curry dishes. If you do not like lima beans, you can opt for other types of beans, such as black beans and kidney beans.
Artichokes (a dark-colored vegetable) also have a rich fiber content. One of the major sources of fiber present in artichokes is inulin, which is prebiotic. Other nutrients found in this vegetable are vitamin (A, C, E, B, and K), potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorous. Plus, they are low in calories.
Even though research results on artichokes are not conclusive, it is widely accepted that they are beneficial when it comes to antioxidant, liver-protecting, and lipid-lowering effects.
Incorporating this dark-green vegetable into your diet may aid your weight loss efforts. It can also help fight cardiovascular disease, detox the liver, and digestive system and help control diabetes.
Just 1 medium artichoke (boiled) provides 10.3 grams of fiber, which meets nearly half of the recommended fiber intake for women and one-third for men. You can steam, boil, or bake artichokes. They can be eaten warm or cold.
The creamy avocado is another fiber-rich fruit that you must include in your diet. This superfood has plenty of heart-healthy fats, as well as vitamin C, E, and K, potassium, B vitamins, copper, iron, phosphorus, protein, and folate.
Including avocados in your diet can help keep your digestive system healthy, lower your cholesterol level, improve your heart health, promote weight loss, regulate your blood sugar, and much more.
Just 1 medium avocado contains around 10 grams to 12 grams of fiber.
Because avocados are high in calories, aim to include just ½ of avocado daily in your diet. You can use it to make guacamole and other dips or add it to salads, smoothies, or sandwiches. You may even use it as a healthy substitute for butter or cream on bread and toast.
When it comes to fiber-rich fruits, raspberries are a great choice. Some of the fiber in raspberries is soluble fiber in the form of pectin, which is effective in lowering cholesterol. These tiny berries are also high in vitamin C, B-complex, manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron. Furthermore, they are very low in calories.
Being rich in fiber, raspberries help regulate the digestive system. Although limited, there is some research backing this fruit’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels, and aid weight loss. They also help prevent cell damage due to free radicals.
Just 1 cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber. You can enjoy this juicy and tangy fruit as a snack, or you can mix them with your morning oats, yogurt, or cereal.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have gained immense popularity in recent times. One of the main reasons behind this is the high fiber content of these seeds.
Apart from fiber, they are rich in vitamin C, protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and magnesium. Chia seeds also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids and are free of any grain and gluten.
Being high in dietary fiber, chia seeds help promote bowel regularity and healthy stools. Eating these seeds regularly can help increase energy levels, aid weight loss, and protect against diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.
Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber.
You can sprinkle soaked chia seeds into soups, salads, smoothies, and juices or eat them plain.
No matter what type of oatmeal you like or how you choose to prepare it, this fiber-rich food is certainly great for your health. Oats contain a powerful soluble fiber called Beta-glucan. Research indicates that Beta-glucan may have a (positive) effect on blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In fact, oats are one of the healthiest grains on the planet. Apart from fiber, this cereal grain is loaded with protein and nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, they contain powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Just 1 cup of oatmeal (instant and cooked) provides 4 grams of fiber.
A bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start your day, owing to the various health benefits it offers.
Quinoa (technically a seed, not a grain) contains almost twice the amount of fiber present in most grains. This complete protein food also contains several other essential nutrients, including iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, and zinc.
In addition to relieving constipation, quinoa helps prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. It may also help you lose weight.
Just 1 cup of cooked quinoa provides 5 grams of fiber.
Owing to its crunchy texture and nutty flavor, quinoa works well as a side dish or breakfast porridge. Boiled quinoa can also be added to salads or soups.
One of the healthiest tree nut almonds is also included in the category of fiber-rich foods. These small nuts are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Almonds also boast an impressive nutrient profile. They contain protein, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. They also have a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorus.
Aside from improving digestive health, a few almonds a day may help promote heart health and prevent weight gain and diabetes. They may possibly aid in protecting the brain from neurological diseases (such as Alzheimer’s), but further research is needed to confirm these results.
Just 1 ounce (23 nuts) of almonds provides 3.5 grams of fiber.
You can have dry roasted almonds as snacks and also add them to cereals, baked goods, yogurt, and salads. Since almonds are high in calories, you must not consume them in excess.
Other good sources of fiber:
Flaxseeds, figs, pears, apples, air-popped popcorn, brown rice, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, kidney beans, bran flakes, and oranges.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Michelle Dudash (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist)
Why are fibrous foods considered good for the digestive system?
Fibrous foods help keep you fuller longer, prevent diverticulitis, and may prevent colon cancer. Soluble fiber acts like a broom that “sweeps up” LDL cholesterol when consumed alongside a fatty meal and facilitates its elimination from the body.
Can eating fiber-rich foods help reduce belly fat?
No specific food can target the reduction of body fat in a specific area, including the belly area. Rather, fiber may aid in weight loss, and therefore overall body fat. It does so by adding bulk to your diet, which makes you feel full for longer, and helps curb your appetite.
Given that fiber is not absorbed by the body, it helps promote satiety without adding to your calorie intake.
What are common health problems related to low fiber intake?
Not eating enough fiber can lead to constipation, feeling bloated, diverticulitis. Studies have shown that low-fiber diets tend to double the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
Eating enough fiber can help reduce blood cholesterol as well as the risk of colon and breast cancer. High fiber diets have also been linked to reduced coronary heart diseases and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
Which fruits and vegetables have the highest fiber content?
Fruits highest in fiber include pears, strawberries, avocado, blueberries, raspberries, figs, plums, dates, and raisins.
Vegetables with some of the highest fiber content include black-eyed peas, white and sweet potatoes, acorn squash, lima beans, fava beans, green peas, and soybeans.
Does fiber relieve or cause constipation?
Fiber relieves constipation. It is important to drink plenty of fluids while eating a high-fiber diet. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps soften your stools so that they pass more easily.
Are there any health risks associated with excessive fiber intake?
Fiber quantities beyond those recommended, or if someone is switching from low fiber to high fiber diet within a short period of time could lead to bloating, flatulence, diarrhea or loose stools, abdominal pain, intestinal blockage for Crohn’s Disease patients.
This can even result in reduced blood sugars, which is an important point of consideration for people who are on diabetes medications.
What are some healthy breakfast options to increase fiber intake?
High-fiber, healthy breakfast options include oatmeal, whole-grain toast topped with almond butter, granola, chia or hemp seeds (that you could sprinkle over yogurt or cereal), whole-grain cereal, a bowl of fruit, and vegetables added to an omelet or breakfast scramble.
Please provide some additional tips or inputs regarding the benefits of eating a fiber-rich diet.
When embarking on a high-fiber diet, try to introduce fibrous foods gradually into your diet, rather than overnight. This smooth transition from your routine diet to a high-fiber one will help you stave off adverse side effects like gas or diarrhea.
About Michelle Dudash, RDN: Ms. Michelle is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, revised & expanded and creator of the 4Real Food Reboot.
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